A Wicklow youth who blinded a nurse in one eye by throwing a egg at her from a passing car will carry out community service in lieu of three years jail time.
David Morgan (aged 18) was out “egging” with his friends when he hit the woman as she was out for a walk.
Judge Katherine Delahunt put the matter back to next year to see whether there was sufficient work for Morgan to do in the community. She said she would impose the maximum number of community service hours.
The judge directed that half of the €10,000 Morgan had gathered as a token of remorse go to The Society of St Vincent de Paul and the rest to the Peter McVerry Trust.
The victim had previously rejected the money.
Morgan of The Green, Woodbrook Glen, Bray, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Ms Ann Dooley on the Bray Road on March 26, 2008.
Morgan took the stand to read out an apology to the victim, saying he “would have done anything for this not to have happened”.
Detective garda David Jones said that Morgan had never been in trouble with gardaí before and was genuinely remorseful. Judge Delahunt accepted that Ms Dooley did not wish to see him going to jail.
The judge called for schools to pay more attention to showing pupils the “ramification” of reckless behaviour.
Det garda Jones told prosecuting counsel, Mr Garret Baker BL, that Morgan had met up with his friends to drive to a party and “egg” the people there. They stopped in a shop on the way and bought 30 eggs.
As they drove to the party, Morgan saw a group of young people and was going to throw an egg at them but then saw Ms Dooley and her friends walking up the road.
He threw the egg at them instead, hitting Ms Dooley in her left eye. She was in “very severe pain” and was brought to a nearby house where her husband picked her up and brought her to the Eye and Ear Hospital.
The medical report stated she had an extremely large wound and the lens of the eye had almost disappeared. She lost all sight in that eye and had to get a prosthetic cover fitted. She was also told there was a chance the eye may have to be removed totally in the future.
She incurred medical expenses of nearly €12,000 and claimed she had lost earnings of €1.5m because she was planning on going back to work as a nurse but could no longer do this. The figure is based on the annual wage of a nurse up to her age of retirement.
Gardaí searched the area for the youths and were told by a resident that his house had also been egged from a car. The man gave them the registration number which was traced to one of Morgan’s friends.
Morgan admitted everything to gardaí and said was shocked when he realised he had thrown it at a grown woman and not another youth.
Ms Dooley’s victim impact report stated: “Not a minute goes by where the attack does not affect my life.” She said she suffers from regular headaches and is self-conscious about her appearance.
She rejected Morgan’s offer of €10,000 as an “insult” with belittles her injury. She also refused to accept a letter of apology from him.
Defence counsel, Mr Justin McQuade called it a “practical joke gone wrong”. He said a custodial sentence was not called for and Morgan was at a very low risk of reoffending.
Judge Delahunt said she accepted that none of the youths had set out to inflict injury that night and that there was no alcohol, malice or spite involved.